When Bear woke up, Girl was curled up on her side, inside his body, snuggled up to him for warmth, the blanket mostly covering her, except for one foot, which stuck out. The fire had died some time ago, and it was cool inside the cabin. Bear raised his head, and looked fondly at the sleeping form beside him, then shook his head and thought, Silly Girl!
Cautiously, so as not to wake her, he moved away from her and went out to see what kind of day it wanted to be. The sun hadn’t yet crested the peaks behind the cabin, but the sky was lightening. The heavens were that sort of deep indigo that comes only at early mornings or late evenings and lit by the pink- and orange-edged clouds sliding high up. Bear often stopped, delighted by the beauty around him, and wondered, once again, why it was that an appreciation of beauty was a part of our beings.
Finally, he looked down and shook his head, then turned back into the cabin, padding softly across the floor, and shutting the door against the cold. He quietly built up the fire again, then lit it. The days were definitely cooler now, and soon Girl would have to think about leaving or be trapped here for the winter. Bear knew that would be a fight, but he also knew she would be hard-pressed to survive if she stayed. Winter in the Rockies was hard enough for the animals that lived here. It would be well-nigh impossible for a mere human.
Not that there was anything mere about Girl. She was remarkably resilient, given what she had been through, and lovely as well. Bear reflected on how much richer his life had become since he had found her, broken, by the side of the road. He counted himself fortunate.
He sat back as the fire caught, and the kindling sparked. He waited as the fire grew, until…
“It’s quite beautiful. And warm! Thank you, Bear!”
Bear swiveled his great head to see that Girl was lying, wrapped up in her blanket, her eyes on him. The two friends stared at each other, smiles playing at the corners of their mouths.
“So, some breakfast for you, perhaps, young lady?”
Girl giggled. “I’m not so young – and I’m not sure how much of a ‘lady’ I am, either!”
“Pish and likewise tush say I. Breakfast?”
Girl’s smile broadened, “Yes, please Bear.” She lifted her head onto her palm, elbow to floor. “Why do you take such good care of me, Bear? What have I done to deserve you?”
Bear looked at her, a small smile playing on his lips. “Why nothing – and everything, Girl. I was just looking at the sky, and wondering why I deserved to see such beauty. And got much the same answer.
“You are my friend. That’s all that’s necessary.” Bear paused and thought. “What would you have done if you found me wounded, nearby? Walked away and left me for dead?”
Girl stirred, serious now. “No, of course not. I would have tended your wounds and tried to take care of you as best I could. You know that.”
Bear nodded, “Yes, I do. Then why do you question why I try to take care of you?”
Girl thought, then got to her feet, walked over to Bear, got down on one knee and hugged him. “Bear, I don’t know why you do a lot of the things you do – but I appreciate them.”
Just then, Bear farted.
“Well, most of them at least. BEAR!” She waved her hand, got up and backed off, wrinkling her nose. Then she noticed that Bear was chuckling at her. “Oh, my God! You did that on purpose! You are a nasty little rascal!” But she started laughing.
Bear lifted one eyebrow. “Little?”
“All right, a nasty BIG rascal!” She walked to the door and opened it – then stood, transfixed, by the beauty of the morning. “OH!” was all she could say.
Bear walked over and crowded next to her in the doorway. “It was pretty before, but this…”
There were no words to describe the majesty of the scene they beheld. The play of light and cloud, shadow and brightness, green and grey, warmth and cold, was breathtaking. The views of the mountains from the cabin were often achingly beautiful, but the added glory of sunrises and sunsets often made them seem pedestrian in contrast.
The two friends moved out onto the porch, and into their accustomed positions, the better to experience the wonder of the scene before them. And when the highest peak opposite suddenly turned orange and lit up far brighter than the peaks around it, it made the scene somehow perfect.
Then, one by one, the other peaks caught fire, and the line of fire began to work its way down the slope, and would eventually make it to the lake, turning it to a shimmering silver. And lovely though the scene remained, it had lost the breathless magic of before. Now, there was too much light – as if Beauty relied on both the Light and the Dark to paint its wonders.
Finally, Bear stirred himself, and said, “Breakfast time, Girl. You’re too skinny as it is.”
She looked at him, then screwed her face up and stuck out her tongue.
“Oh, very grown-up. Clearly, you’re not too old for such things, are you?” And he gave his deep-throated laugh, then lumbered up and wandered back into the cabin.
Girl stayed where she was, turned her attention back to the mountains, then finally sighed and said, “Thank you – whoever You are,” got up and went to rejoin her friend.